I'm was sitting at the airport on the way to Masters Worlds in Vegas. I see men and women about to board my flight that are obviously traveling to compete at Jiu-Jitsu Master Worlds. I notice that there are at least 20 people on my flight that look like they will be competing the next few days. That got me thinking, I don't know these strangers. Some of them are wearing Jiu-Jitsu shirts but most are dressed in regular clothes. So how can I be so sure that they are on their way to compete? The most common thing all these individuals shared was they were in good shape.
The guys regardless of age all look strong and move like they can handle themselves. Looking around at the rest of the passengers about to board the plane and you notice how soft they are. I am not talking about 10 pounds overweight. I am saying 75% of the passengers about to get on the plane would be considered Obese. Is this normal?
In the United States, 69% of the population is overweight and 36% are obese. What happened? Why are people that train Jiu-Jitsu in better physical shape than the rest of the population? I am saying percentage wise. Because I see obese people in Jiu-Jitsu also, but at a far lower percentage than say going to even Whole Foods. Much less Walmart. Why?
In the last year on social media I saw several pictures comparing beaches in the United States from the 70s to now. In the pictures from the 70s it is very hard to find an obese person. In the pictures from the 2020s it is almost impossible to find a skinny person. What changed? Were people in the 70s more health conscious? Did they exercise more? I doubt it.
The average age of Americans in the 70s was 28.1 years old. The average age of Americans in 2020 is 38.8 years old. So this definitely affects the average person. Almost everyone as they age, put on weight. 11 years is significant. But I don't think that change should be that dramatic. Going from hard to find an obese person to can't find a skinny person on the beach. That can't account for that change. What else has changed.
Our FDA allows foods to be sold and consumed in the United States that are illegal in other countries. For example, the ground beef that is sold in grocery stores would be illegal in much of Europe. Prepackaged beef contains an additive that lowers the overall fat content of the meat. Our meat is also exposed to ammonia gas or citric acid.
Coffee-Mate is banned in many countries. Because of hydrogenated soybeans that have been linked to heart disease. High Fructose corn syrup is another major factor in the Obesity epidemic. I think if the food industry switched to using cane sugar it would also help. There are many more food products that are banned around the world. That Americans are allowed to consume. The overall effect is that in the 50 years that this has been happening Americans have gotten fatter. Now this isn't the only reason I am sure but I think the simplest answer is usually the correct one.
I spent the next few weeks thinking about this and having several conversations. Even going to say 24hr fitness the percentage of obese people is far higher than at JiuJitsu. What is the difference? Why are people that train healthier as whole than people who don't.
They are embracing doing the hard thing. I think Jiu-Jitsu athletes are actively trying to be the best version of themselves. Training 4-6 times a week. Surrounding yourself with like minded individuals, that are all trying to improve themselves is powerful.
I buy most of my meat from local farmers then taking the animal to a butcher shop. One of my students will ask me if I would like to go in a 1/3 or a 1/4 or even half a cow.. I usually say yes. Because I know that the farmer who raised it took better care of the cow. Plus the local butcher is not going to add in things like the big commercial packing plants. That are allowed to put harmful products into our food.
Chicken is much harder. I have not met anyone that raises chickens that I could buy to put into my freezer. I also am lucky enough to go shoot an Elk once a year. Elk is slightly healthier than beef. I don't believe it is worth the cost difference to purchase it from a grocery store. But hunting one I think is a great trade off for very healthy meat. The other thing I do is I don't eat out very much.
I eat at home 90% of the time. This allows me to control the quality of what I consume. I never eat boxed food. The problem with eating in is you have to know how to cook. Before I met my wife, Erin, I didn't know how to cook or what to cook. I could kind of survive but not really. Erin is a very good cook and always been into reading and learning about nutrition. Fast forward 15 years and I cook breakfast every day for my family.
The interesting thing is we have 6 different people living at home. That means on an average day I make 3 different breakfasts. Ronan and my taste buds are very similar. He likes meat and sugar. (I know sugar is not good for either of us). Basically the same as me. Neither one of us eat any fruit or vegetables. The rest of the family eats a very balanced diet. Erin also packs the kids individual lunches for school everyday. No prepackaged food. Unless Ronan has requested Beef Jerky for lunch. Erin or I make dinner when the kids get home from school. We do occasionally grab the kids Chick-fill-A. Definitely not as healthy as eating at home. But the kids like it.
Eating healthy is expensive. This is true. But it is way cheaper than eating out. Chick-fil-a cost more then when I cook at home. I usually cook chicken for my breakfast everyday. I sometimes cook a steak. I buy a package of chicken breast that I cook in olive oil and add a little salt to. My breakfast cost around 2 dollars or less. I feel better eating this way. I also enjoy cooking my kids' food, watching them wake up and then driving them to school. Grocery prices have gone up by about a 1/3 since 2020. But so has eating out. Plus the quality of the food you receive at a restaurant has gone down.
Conclusion: JiuJitsu observations about the status of the World are interesting. I hope that Americans will take responsibility for their health. Start researching how they should eat. Finding like minded friends to push them towards becoming their best selves. We all get a limited number of trips around the sun before our time is up. I personally choose to keep pushing each year to being a better version of myself inside and out. I am very proud of the Jiu-Jitsu community I surround myself in.